The Federal Reserve on Tuesday raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percentage points to 0.75% and cut its key inflation rate by a quarter point to 2%.
The move follows the Fed’s decision in January to buy $85 billion in Treasuries to boost the economy.
The Fed also said Wednesday that it would likely raise interest rates again in March.
The decision comes at a time of a tightening labor market and the economy continues to slow.
The Labor Department said Wednesday it will begin its third-quarter report on Thursday.
The number of Americans working full-time is expected to rise, with the unemployment rate remaining at 4.3% for the quarter.
The Fed’s actions were the first in more than two years to cut its benchmark rate.
“The rate will be the first to come out of the door, and I think it’s going to be a little bit harder to reverse that move than the last one,” said Mark Vitner, chief economist at S&P Dow Jones Indices.
“But we’ll see the Fed doing the right thing.”
The Fed has already signaled it would begin to tighten monetary policy again in mid-March, when it lowered the rate by 1 basis point to 0% and then 0.5 percentage points further to 1% at the start of February.
With its rate cut, the Fed is following the Feders December policy decision to raise rates in March and increase them again in late March.
Since the December hike, the economy has been adding jobs at a rate of about 300,000 per month.
Analysts had expected the Fed to move the rate back up a notch in March, after a slower job gain in the third quarter.
But that expectation was turned around when the Fed raised rates in late January.
Economists polled by Reuters expected the unemployment figure to be slightly higher in March than in February, but that was still down from the previous quarter.